Of arms and a woman  /  Blondel


late medieval wind music






medieval.org | firsthandrecords.com
renaissance-winds.com | planethugill.com
First Hand Records 69
2019
[61:19]








1. Se le face ay pale   [1:55]   Guillaume DUFAY (1397–1474)
2 soprano shawms, alto shawm, tenor sackbut, tabor

2. Or me veult bien esperance   [2:12]   attrib. Guillaume DUFAY
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms

3. Belle, veulliés moy retenir   [2:19]   Guillaume DUFAY
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, frame drum

4. O rosa bella   [1:59]   John BEDYNGHAM (c. 1422–c. 1460)
alto recorder, 2 tenor recorders

5. Les tres doulx ieux du viaire ma dame   [2:40]   Gilles BINCHOIS (c. 1400–1460)
alto recorder, 2 tenor recorders

6. A cheval, tout homme, a cheval   [2:46]   ANON. (15th century)  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, slide trumpet, tabor

7. Reveillez vous piccars   [2:57]   ANON. (late 15th century)  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
2 bagpipes, slide trumpet, tabor

8. Gardez le trait de la fenestre   [2:17]   ANON. (late 15th century)
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, tabor

9. Dueil angoisseus   [2:14]   Gilles BINCHOIS
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, tenor sackbut

10. Le ray au soleyl   [2:01]   Johannes CICONIA (1370–1412)
2 alto recorders, tenor recorder

11. Tout par compas suy composes   [1:25]   Baude CORDIER (1380–1440)
2 alto recorders, tenor recorder

12. Guillaume de MACHAUT (1300–1377)   [4:33]
Aymi! dame de valour  |  arr. E. Baines
Je vivroie liement  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
3 bagpipes, tamburello

13. Corps femenin par vertu   [3:25]   SOLAGE (fl. late 14th Century)
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms

14. Le Souvenir de vous me tue mon seul bien   [2:06]   Robert MORTON (c. 1430–c. 1479)
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, tenor sackbut

15. Le Serviteur hault guerdonné   [2:50]   Guillaume DUFAY
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms

16. Le Serviteur (Superno nunc emittitur)   [2:00]   John BEDYNGHAM (1422–1460)
alto recorder, 2 tenor recorders

17. De quan qu'on peut belle et bonne estrener   [2:17]   ANON. (late 14th century)
alto recorder, 2 tenor recorders

18. Anxci bon youre   [1:31]   ANON. (15th century)
soprano shawm, alto shawm, slide trumpet

19. Adiu, adiu dous dame   [2:09]   Francesco LANDINI (c. 1325–1397)
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms

20. La Spagna   [1:32]   ANON. (late 15th century)
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, tenor sackbut

21.  [5:37]
Pues serviçio vos desplaze  |  attrib. ENRIQUE (15th century)
Cançión contrahecha Pues serviçio vos desplaze, letra y punto  |   ANON. (15th century)
alto recorder, 2 tenor recorders

22. Allez a la fougere    [2:06]   ANON. (late 15th century)  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
3 bagpipes

23. [2:54]
Lomme arme  |  JOSQUIN DES PRÉS (c. 1450/55–1521)
Lome arme (falsum)  |  ANON. (15th cent?)
Lom arme  |  Robert MORTON
soprano shawm, 2 alto shawms, tenor sackbut

24. Files a marier ne vous mariez ja   [1:51]   Gilles BINCHOIS
2 soprano shawms, alto shawm, tenor sackbut, tabor









Blondel

Belinda Paul | Lizzie Gutteridge | Emily Baines
recorders, shawms, bagpipes

Daniel Serafini
slide trumpets, sackbut

Louise Anna Duggan
frame drum, tabor, tamburello


Blondel performs ceremonial fanfares and intimate chansons, dances and theatre music on shawms, bagpipes, recorders, curtals and a variety of percussion – all reconstructions of historical instruments.

Blondel’s past performances include concerts at the Cheltenham Festival (broadcast live by the BBC), the Cambridge Early Music, the King’s Lynn Festival, the Beaminster Festival, the Leeds International Medieval Congress, the Wimbledon International Music Festival, Totnes Early Music Society, the Barnes Music Festival and the Worcester Early Music Festival. The Agincourt600 Committee recently commissioned Blondel to make a recording based around the life of Henry V, which is available as a free download from https://blondelwinds. bandcamp.com/releases.

Members of Blondel heard on this recording have performed with the Academy of Ancient Music, the London Contemporary Orchestra, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, I Fagiolini, The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Joglaresa and the Freiburger Barockorchester.







INSTRUMENTS

Soprano shawms by Fritz Heller and Robert Cronin
Alto shawms by Jim Parr and Robert Cronin

Tenor recorders by Rob Nelson
Alto recorders by Bodil Diesen

Bagpipes in G by Sean Jones and Jon Swayne
Bagpipes in D by Jim Parr and Jon Swayne

Slide trumpet by G.J.v.d. Heide
Slide trumpet and tenor sackbut by R. Egger

Tar frame drum by David Roman


Photos / images:

Album cover image: Venus attacks the castle and figures before a statue
illuminated 15th-century manuscript by Robert Testard (Ms Douce, 195, f. 148v),
The Bodleian Libraries, The University of Oxford

Page 7: part of a fresco by Pinturichio c. 1505, Siena Cathedral, Tuscany, Italy
under licence from shutterstock.com

Page 3: instruments which are featured on this recording taken by Belinda Paul
Pages 12 and 27: taken by Sally Parkinson
Pages 23: taken by Arngeir Hauksson
Page 24: taken by Stefan Splinter

Manuscripts:
Page 9: Guillaume Dufay Or me veult bien esperance
(Mellon Chansonnier, MS 69v–71r)

Page 16: Baude Cordier Tout par compas
(Chantilly Codex, Musée Condé, MS 564, fol. 12)
cliché : IRHT- CNRS


FHR thanks Blondel and Peter Bromley



Recorded at St Mary's Church, Stoke-by-Nayland, UK, 24-27 July 2015
Produced and engineered by Adrian Hunter
24 bit, 96 Khz hi-resolution recording and mastering

℗ & ©  The copyright in these sound recordings is owned by First Hand Records Ltd
www.firsthandrecords.com










Of arms and a woman — late medieval wind music

In 1410 Christine de Pizan (1364–c. 1430) produced an extraordinary book called The Book of Fayttes of Arms and of Chivalrye (Livre des fais d’armes et de chevalerie): a manual on modern warfare. It was commissioned by Jean, Duke of Burgundy as a gift to the 12-year-old dauphin, Louis de Guyen, it earned her a payment of two hundred livres from the royal treasury, and it was at least as influential in its time as Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Henry VII owned a copy and commissioned an English translation. The book was in Elizabeth I’s library, along with several other of Pizan’s works. There is a copy bearing Napoleon’s mark in the Bibliothèque National in Paris. Henry VIII, on the other hand, turned to Il Principe for guidance.

The Livre des fais d’armes et de chevalerie included extensive reflections on the theological and ethical implications of conflict. Pizan argued that the only honourable war was a just war, fought by Kings in the name of God, and in doing so conveniently paved the way for the introduction in France of an edict outlawing nobles from raising armies for their own, potentially treacherous, purposes.

The book begins, conventionally enough, by laying out historical examples and philosophical analyses designed to buoy the faltering conscience of a neophyte monarch, but its scope is far more ambitious. The bulk of the work is devoted to the nitty gritty of combat: strategy, assembling an arsenal, siege techniques, and paying and feeding an army. It was, above all else, a practical guide written in the vernacular, explicitly targeted at middle class professional soldiers who, although literate, wouldn’t necessarily understand Latin.

Christine de Pizan was a forthright feminist, a writer, political theorist, royal agony aunt and the author of self-help books commissioned by the highest in the land. She was born in Venice, but spent most of her life in France. Her father was the King’s astrologer, and her husband, Estienne de Castel, a royal secretary.
The fragility of her family’s charmed existence was exposed when astrology fell out of favour at court and her father lost his post; he died in 1386 leaving behind debts. Then in 1389 Estienne died without warning (possibly of plague), also in the red; Christine was twenty-five and a widow. Facing bankruptcy, and with three children, her mother and a niece to support, she took up her pen and began to write romantic poetry.

It didn’t take her long to attract wealthy patrons. She had spent her childhood rifling through palace libraries, and she knew her market; after all the life of a nobleman wasn’t played out entirely on the battlefield. On home turf the knight was transformed from warrior to social ornament: an accomplished musician, poet, and sportsman, and a master of the art of courtly love. His life became a work of art, played out according to the rules of court etiquette.

In the world of chivalric romance the women are impossibly beautiful, unapproachably noble, and usually married to somebody else. The men are correspondingly good-looking, selflessly devoted, and fearless in combat. But perfect love cannot withstand reality – betrayal, a change of heart or the ordinariness of everyday life; the lovers are trapped outside the narrative, their fate determined by a battle between love and life itself. The outcome was never in doubt – love must survive, and so the lovers must die, or at least threaten to.

There can never be a happy ending. Turn the page of any chansonnier and the story plays out once again. Another lady, another knight in shining armour, another Tristan, another Iseult, another doomed love affair.

In her lifetime Christine was accepted as one of the foremost writers and thinkers in Europe. Her reputation today rests on her determination to give women a voice, and it is this that sets her apart from her contemporaries. She believed that since both women and men are built in God’s image, they are intellectually and morally identical; both equally susceptible to vice and capable of wisdom and goodness. In her view, unless women were given the same audience as men, the same education, accorded the same attention when they spoke and wrote, the subjugation of women was inevitable – they would live invisible lives as perpetual bystanders, and die leaving barely a trace of a memory, a shadow in the historical record.

One day I was surrounded by books of all kinds... my mind dwelt at length on the opinions of various authors whom I had studied... it made me wonder how it happened that so many different men – and learned men among them – have been and are so inclined to express... so many wicked insults about women and their behaviour... it seems that they all speak from one and the same mouth...

The opening lines paragraph of the Book of the City of Ladies (1405)












Guillaume DUFAY (1397–1474)
1. Se le face ay pale
(Museo Provinciale d’Arte, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento, MS 1376 [89] (Trent 89). Text from Oxford Bodleian Library, MS Canonici Misc. 213)
This untexted four-part reworking of Dufay’s popular three-part chanson is built around the existing Superius and Tenor, and is particularly well-suited to wind instruments. It is unashamedly rowdy, which might seem to be at odds with the self-pitying text. However, the lyrics are riddled with silly puns, and the original work is a virtuosic show piece, not a sentimental study of unrequited love.

If my face is pale, the cause is love. That is the main reason, and because this love is so bitter to me, I would throw myself into the sea. Well she knows, this lady that I serve, that I cannot be happy without her.
If I carry a heavy weight of grief, it is this difficult love that I must bear, for she will allow me no pleasure other than that of serving her. And so, as I am in her power, I cannot be without her.
She is the most regal creature anyone could hope to see, and I cannot help but feel loyal love for her. I am foolish look at her, and seek no love save hers. I must be near her to avoid misery, without her I cannot exist.


(attrib.) Guillaume DUFAY
2. Or me veult bien esperance
(Mellon Chansonnier, MS 69v–71r)
The earliest surviving settings of this work are textless, so it is possible that it was originally an instrumental piece.


Guillaume DUFAY
3. Belle, veulliés moy retenir
(Oxford Bodleian Library, MS Canonici Misc. 213)
Belle, veulliés moy retenir is a song in which a lover offers up his heart as a New Year’s gift to his beloved.
The exchange of New Year’s gifts (étrenne) formed an important social function in both diplomatic, romantic and family life during the Middle Ages. By the 14th century a highly formalised ritual had developed around the art of gift giving; it operated at every level of society and was a fundamental element of the chivalric code.
Kings and noblemen would commonly commission songs from the greatest composers of the time which were then elaborately presented in richly decorated manuscripts alongside equally impressive works of art, fabulously bejewelled trinket boxes and the like.
Dufay composed at least ten New Year’s Day chansons during his career. Although his contemporaries also wrote in the genre he seems to have been the most prolific and his works provide a blueprint of the style. Most would have been commissioned by wealthy patrons and are settings of formulaic texts.

Fair lady, please keep me as your servant, for without a doubt you are my only mistress. It is my heart’s desire to serve you, should that be your wish.
This New Year’s Day I offer you my heart, which only you can cure of suffering and misery. Fair lady, please keep me as your servant, for without a doubt you are my only mistress. It is my heart’s desire to serve you, should that be your wish.
You can cause me to pine away, and you can cause me delight and bring me great happiness. That’s why my heart will not cease to entreat and plead: Fair lady, please keep me as your servant, for without a doubt you are my only mistress. It is my heart’s desire to serve you, should that be your wish.


John BEDYNGHAM (c. 1422–c. 1460)
4. O rosa bella
(Wolfenbüttel Chansonnier)
Little is known about John Bedyingham (or Bedyngham, Bodigham, Bellingun, Benigun, Boddenham). O rosa bella was an enormously successful and much copied work, both in its original form, and as the subject of extensive reworkings. The text is a badly corrupted transcription of a stanza of a ballata by Leonardo Giustiniani, in which a generic young man claims he is dying and begs the unattainable girl to rescue him because he’s been loyal in his devotion to her.

O beautiful rose, o my sweet friend, please don’t let me die. Alas, must I end in misery for serving you well and loving loyally?


Gilles BINCHOIS (c. 1400–1460)
5. Les tres doulx ieux du viaire ma dame
It is my heart’s desire to serve you, should that be your wish.
(Oxford Bodleian Library, MS Canonici Misc. 213)

The sweetest eyes of my true lady often bring me joy and happiness. Her sweet comportment and sweeter conversation fan the flames of love. Alas, often my heart falters at the great misery I must endure. The sweetest eyes of my true lady often bring me joy and happiness.
I want nothing other than to serve more than to serve her body and soul, for I hope that my lady will shortly and without fear come to me and bring me comfort with her beautiful words which are as sweet as my soul.
The sweetest eyes of my true lady often bring me joy and happiness. Her sweet comportment and sweeter conversation fan the flames of love. Alas, often my heart falters at the great misery I must endure.


ANON. (15th century)  |  additional trumpet part E. Gutteridge
6. A cheval, tout homme a cheval
(Palacio Real, Monasterio de S Lorenzo, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, MS IV.a.24)

The anonymous rondeau A cheval is a rousing call to arms which feeds into all our romantic notions of medieval chivalry, although it does include a slightly disquieting hint at what might happen to any traitors or rebels. Quite a few women did accompany armies to war (surprisingly many wives with their children in tow, as well as tradeswomen and prostitutes), however these ones were clearly not invited.

In the saddle, every man on horseback, good companions, saddle up. Leave the women and the young girls and serve the King with a loyal heart.
You who are of royal blood, and are in command of the troops, in the saddle, every man on horseback, good companions, saddle up.
For truly he comes with love through this valley, accompanied by the best of men. He will thoroughly punish the rebels if they are found to be disloyal.
In the saddle, every man on horseback, good companions, saddle up. Leave the women and the young girls and serve the King with a loyal heart.


ANON. (late 15th century)  |  additional trumpet part E. Gutteridge
7. Reveillez vous piccars
(Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, fonds français 12744)
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy died in possession of extensive territories (Picardy, Artois, Franche-Comté and Burgundy itself). Following his death in 1477 his daughter Marie inherited his lands, and later shared control over them with her husband, Maximilian, Archduke of Austria.
The future of Burgundy was uncertain; squeezed between competing powers and threatened from many directions (not least from King Louis XI of France), Marie and Maximillian managed a temporary stability, but the writing was on the wall.
Reveillez vous piccars calls upon loyal Burgundians to throw their weight behind Maximillian, the Duke’s successor. It is still sung in France today, and appealed so much to Ralph Vaughan Williams that he set it for tenor and piano.

Wake up, men from Picardy and men from Burgundy, and find yourselves some good clubs, for the spring is here, and with it the time for war, to strike heavy blows. Farewell, Salins, Salins and Besançon, and to the city Beaune where the good wines are. The Picards drank them, the Flemish will pay them four pastars a pint, or they will be beaten.
Some talk of war, not knowing what it is; I can tell you upon my soul that it is a terrible thing. And many a man-at-arms and many a good companion have lost lives, cloaks and hoods in it.
Where is the Duke of Austria? He’s in the Netherlands. He is in Flanders with his Picards, who beg him night and day to lead them into High Burgundy to conquer it for him.
When we are in Burgundy, and the land is free, then will be the time to celebrate. We’ll chase the King of France out of these hills and fill up on wine from our barrels.


ANON. (late 15th century)
8. Gardez le trait de la fenestre
(Dijon Chansonnier)
The slightly disturbing text of Gardez le trait has been attributed to Charles the Bold, the last of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy. Had the poem been written by anybody else these peculiar arrows aimed at passing lovers could be mistaken for Cupid’s darts, but coming from the hand of Charles the Bold we are almost certainly meant to take his advice literally.
Charles the Bold was an austere, pious, and cultured man. He was also belligerent, pitiless and obstinate – qualities which would ultimately lead to his grisly and untimely death.

Beware the arrow from the window, lovers who pass along the street: for they will wound you sooner than any bow or crossbow.
Don’t look to the right or the left, but lower your eyes. Beware of arrows shot from windows, lovers who pass along the street.
If you don’t have a good doctor, commend your soul to God as soon as you are wounded. Death is waiting for you, summon a priest. Beware the arrow from the window.


Gilles BINCHOIS
9. Dueil angoisseus
text by Christine de Pizan (1364–c. 1430)
(Palacio Real, Monasterio de S Lorenzo, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, MS IV.a.24)
Binchois’s hauntingly sparse setting of Christine de Pizan’s grief-laden poem on the death of her husband retains a poignant immediacy that shakes us as though time were no barrier at all.

Agonising grief, unmeasured rage, grievous despair, full of agitation, endless languor and an unfortunate life full of tears, anguish and torment, doleful heart which lives in the shadows, disembodied and on the cusp of death, continually and without cease; thus I can neither be cured nor die.
Pride, determination, without joy, sad thoughts, deep sighs, vast anguish trapped in a weary heart, bitter resentment borne in secret, mournful disposition without joy, a sense of foreboding which destroys all hope, these are in me and never leave me; thus I can neither be cured nor die.
Unceasing care and worry, bitter waking, troubled sleep, work without purpose, undertaken without passion, destined to grievous torment, and all the ill which one could ever say or think, without hope of succour, cause me unmeasurable torment, thus I can neither be cured nor die.
Princes, pray to God that very soon he may allow me to die if he does not intend to relieve the misery in which I painfully languish; thus I can neither be cured nor die.


***

Dueil engoisseux, rage desmesurée,
Grief desespoir, plein de forsennement,
Langour sanz fin, vie maleürée
Pleine de plour, d’engoisse et de tourment,
Cuer doloreux qui vit obscurement,
Tenebreux corps sus le point de perir,
Ay, sanz cesser, continuellement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.

Fierté, durté de joye separée,
Triste penser, parfont gemissement,
Engoisse grant en las cuer enserrée,
Courroux amer porté couvertement,
Morne maintien sanz resjoïssement,
Espoir dolent qui tous biens fait tarir,
Si sont en moy, sanz partir nullement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.

Soussi, anuy qui tous jours a durée,
Aspre veillier, tressaillir en dorment,
Labour en vain, a chiere alangourée
En grief travail infortunéement,
Et tout le mal, qu’on puet entierement
Dire et penser sanz espoir de garir,
Me tourmentent desmesuréement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.

Princes, priez a Dieu que bien briefment
Me doint la mort, s’autrement secourir
Ne veult le mal ou languis durement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.


Johannes CICONIA (1370–1412)
10. Le ray au soleyl
(Mancini Codex)
Le ray au soleyl is a mesmerisingly beautiful prolation canon – that is a canon based on ratios of speed rather than time delays – in this case 4:3:1.

The sweet turtledove sleeps, ever rejuventating, captive in the embrace of the ray of sunlight, appears with good reason in your perfect realm.

Very little is known about Ciconia’s early life. He was born in around 1370, probably one of the many illegitimate children of Johannes Ciconia of Liège (a priest) and a woman of high birth. According to Vatican records Ciconia was granted a papal dispensation for his defectus natalicium which allowed him to hold ecclesiastical posts and gave him leave never to admit to his illigitimacy again.
He was employed by the Papal Legate of cardinal Philippe d’Alençon and was based in Rome by 1391. He seems to have been associated with the court of Giangaleazzo Visconti from the early 1490s until the end of the century.
Ciconia’s musical style is difficult to pin down; his secular works cover a wide variety of genres and he set texts in several languages. He revelled in a kaleidoscopic range of stylistic features, freely adopting aspects of the French Ars Nova, the Northern Italian Trecento, and the Ars Subtilior.
The text of Le ray au soleyl refers to one of the emblems of Giangaleazzo Visconti – a dove holding a ribbon bearing the text A bon droyt, designed by Petrarch for the occasion of Visconti’s second marriage in 1380 to his cousin, Caterina.
Ciconia left us with another puzzle canon Quod jactatur, which has yet to be convincingly solved.


Baude CORDIER (1380–1440)
11. Tout par compas suy composes
(Chantilly Codex, Musée Condé, MS 564)
Tout par compass is a canon of a more conventional sort, although it is not as straightforward as it sounds. It is one of the most modern works in the Chantilly Codex, and also an early example of Augenmusik (eye music) – music in which graphic notation is used to inform the performer, but is obviously inaudible to the listener.

I was composed with a compass, as befits a round, so that I may be sung more surely. Look how I am arranged, friend, I pray you kindly. I was composed with a compass, as befits a round. Three times my circumference is encircled. Chase me with joy if you sing with a true heart. I was composed with a compass, as befits a round, so that I may be sung more surely.


Guillaume de MACHAUT (1300–1377)
12. Aymi! dame de valour  |  arr. E. Baines
Je vivroie liement  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
(F-PN fonds français 843)
Aymi! dame de valour is one of Machaut’s early works. The dance-like rhythms and catchy tune are typical of many of Machaut’s monophonic virelais.

Alas, honourable lady whom I love and desire, you bring me the misery that causes me to languish. Sweetest of creatures, how can you be so angelic, yet so set against me when I have given you my heart, my body and my love without regret? But you let me pine to the point where I fear I shall die.
Alas, honourable lady whom I love and desire, you bring me the misery that causes me to languish.
I am made to suffer beyond all limits, gracious lady, most worthy lady, but I have never intended to dishonour you. Instead I have, without rest, attended to your bidding, and shall do so without putting a foot wrong until I die.
Alas, honourable lady whom I love and desire, you bring me the misery that causes me to languish.
But the love of your sweet face and great beauty, and your noble figure adorned with fine clothes causes me to cry night and day, never to feel joy; my heart lives in sadness, beyond healing.
Alas, honourable lady whom I love and desire, you bring me the misery that causes me to languish.


***

My life would be easy, sweet creature, if only you would realise that you are the cause of my unhappiness. Lady, you have a cheerful manner, you are pleasant, clean and pure. Often I cry out at the suffering I must endure as your loyal servant. Truly I cannot continue to live like this if it lasts any longer. For you treat me without mercy and without pity, and you have put such such a fire in my heart that it must surely die a miserable death, unless you step in soon and show some mercy.

SOLAGE (fl. late 14th Century)
13. Corps femenin par vertu de nature tant noblement
(Chantilly Codex)
Solage is another medieval mystery composer. Corps femenin par vertu de nature and Calextone qui fut form a pair of ballades which are associated with the marriage of Jean, duc de Berry and Jeanne de Boulogne, which took place near Avignon in 1389. The two chansons are united by an acrostic. Unfortunately the final stanzas of Corps femenin are lost, but the acrostic in Calextone qui fut spells CATHELLINE LA ROYNE DAMOURS.

The female body, a gift of nature, is devised, designed and built to perfection. So noble indeed, is your face, so incomparably modest, and more beautiful than any flower, so sweet and pleasing is the loving glance of your laughing eye, that I am made by sweet memory a joyous and happy captive.


Robert MORTON (c. 1430–c. 1479)
14. Le souvenir de vous me tue mon seul bien
(Pixérécourt Chansonnier)
Robert Morton was an English cleric employed at the Burgundian Court. He served both Philip the Good and his successor, Charles the Bold, husband to Margaret of York, the sister of both Edward IV and Richard III. Le souvenir de vous me tue is a captivating work – its transparent scoring and sweeping melody, was as appealing to the medieval ear as it is to ours; it was one of the most reproduced chansons of the age.

The memory of you kills me, my only love, when I cannot see you. In faith I swear to you that without you all my joy is lost. For I swear to you by my faith, without you my joy is gone. When you are out of my sight I feel sorry for myself and say to myself I am alone and desolate, nothing can comfort me. And so I suffer without making a complaint until your return.


(Guillaume DUFAY)
15. Le serviteur hault guerdonné
(Dijon Chansonnier)
Le serviteur hault guerdonné was a popular choice of text, and Dufay’s setting was the most widely distributed song before van Ghizeghem came up with the chart-smashing De tous biens plaine. Le serviteur hault guerdonné was still being copied more than 40 years after it first appeared, with astonishingly little deviation.
The text is uncharacteristically modest and undemanding: the voice in this poem is content with a single, well-placed word.

I find myself the most well remunerated of servants, fulfilled and very fortunate, the happiest of all the men in France, and all because of a single well-placed word. It seems to me the best possible gift after all the grief I have attracted through this new alliance, for I find myself the most well remunerated of servants, fulfilled and very fortunate, the happiest of all the men in France, and all because of a single well-placed word.
I used to be the abandoned man, the miserable unfortunate, but then your charity bolstered my hope, and this fine name was given to me, for I find myself the most well remunerated ofservants, fulfilled and veryfortunate, the happiest ofall the men in France, and all because of a single well-placed word.


John BEDYNGHAM
16. Le serviteur (Superno nunc emittitur)
(Museo Provinciale d’Arte, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento, MS 1377 [90])
Another setting of the same text.


ANON. (late 14th century)
17. De quan qu’on peut belle et bonne estrener
(Chantilly Codex)
De quan qu’on peut is another New Year’s song. The anonymous composer has thrown his entire world into this impossibly clever, ever so modern creation – and the result is far more than an eccentric compendium of polyrhythms; this strangely beautiful work is the musical counterpart of the gifts he offers. No heart on a plate here, it’s the moon on a stick.

Of all I have to offer to a beautiful and pure lady, in wealth, in honour, in joy, in pleasure, I wish to give today. My lady, he who endures complete agony wishes to give her this thought, so that she might soon lighten my life, since it is she who holds the key to my pain.


ANON. (15th century)
18. Anxci bon youre
(Museo Provinciale d’Arte, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento, MS 1376 [89])
The basse danse was traditionally accompanied by a loud wind band (Alta Capella) – professional players of shawms and brass who specialised in improvising florid variations above a slow moving tenor line to accompany dancers. The sounds of those ensembles have long since faded away, but we can get a flavour of the style and flamboyance from the (very clearly composed) surviving settings scattered in manuscripts across Europe.
Anxci bon youre delabonestren appears as a monophonic tenor line in Bodleian Library MS Digby 167, and also as a three-part setting in Trent 89. The title in the English manuscript is corrupt but could plausibly be derived from a lost New Year’s chanson entitled Ainsi bon jour de la bonne étrenne.


Francesco LANDINI (c. 1325–1397)
19. Adiu, adiu dous dame
(Codex Squarcialupi)

Farewell, farewell, sweet pretty lady; my body cries as you leave me, but you have my soul and spirit. Alas, I shall live far away from you in misery, though I shall remain true to you all my life. That is why, alas, bright star, I beg you, with tears and gentle sighs implore that you be loyal to your friend.


ANON. (late 15th century)
20. La Spagna
(Cancionero musical de Montecassino)
This is one of the many surviving settings of La Spagna, the most popular of all basse danse tenors. Although it began life as a dance melody it quickly developed a life of its own, underpinning countless purely musical compositions, and even making its way into the church.


21.
Pues serviçio vos desplaze  |  attrib. ENRIQUE (15th century)
Cançión contrahecha Pues serviçio vos desplaze, letra y punto  |  ANON. (15th century)
(Cancionero de Palacio)
These two pieces come from the Cancionero de palacio. is assumed to have been composed by Enrique. The anonymous Cançión contrahecha Pues serviçio is based upon an identical rhyme structure and metre, and both songs cover the same vocal range and include the repeating phrase que lo sienta.
Enrique was a servant at the court of Carlos Prince of Viana just before the Prince’s death in 1461. The Catalan poet Pere Torroella was at the court at the same time, and probably wrote the text. It is possibly one of the earliest surviving 15th-century Spanish songs, as well as one of the oldest works in the Cancionero de Palacio.

Since my attentions displease you, and my compliments make you miserable, I don’t know what would satisfy you. I don’t know who knows it. I’m really confused, I serve you generously and you treat me like an enemy. In fact I think you take pleasure in my pain. If my death would satisfy you, I do not know who knows it.


ANON. (late 15th century)  |  arr. E. Gutteridge
22. Allez a la fougere
(Dijon Chansonnier [tenor only])
Allez a la fougere appears uniquely in the Dijon Chansonnier as the lower texted voice of the combinative chanson Sans jamais / Allez a la fougere. The tune, which is attractively folk-like, may have been co-opted into this piece of art-music – although it could equally well have been composed for the occasion.
The text of Allez a la fougere (the tenor) exhorts a lover to create a nest in the bracken and rushes by the river, while the upper voice laments the fact that her lover left her pregnant and didn’t even say goodbye.
A popular format in the late fifteenth century in which several apparently incompatible texts and melodies are combined to form one cohesive composition.

Go to the fern patch and don’t be bashful. In Paris by the little bridge, brunette, on the rushes we’ll build a nest.
Lie down on the rushes, brunette. Lie down on the pretty rushes.


23.
Lomme arme  |  JOSQUIN DES PRÉS (c. 1450/55–1521)  |  (Canti B [Petrucci, Venice, 1501])
Lome arme (falsum)  |  ANON. (15th century?)  |  (Basel, Universitätsbibliothek F.X. 1–4 No. 114)
Lom arme  |  Robert MORTON  |  (Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana MS Urb. lat. 1411)
L’homme armé is a bit of a puzzle. It lies at the heart of more than thirty mass settings, and yet there are very few secular settings of the melody, which is a mystery in itself – is it a folk tune, or the tenor detached from a long forgotten chanson? And just who was this armed man? Henry V, Charles VII of France, or Charles the Bold? Or just a common soldier, an Everyman of the battlefield.
Josquin’s L’homme armé is only a few bars long. The notation is discouragingly complicated, but is in fact a straightforward piece in duple time.
Robert Morton’s three part combinative chanson is the oldest known setting and has been ascribed to him on the basis of an attribution on the textless four-part version recorded here. The text in the upper voice (Il sera pour vous) probably refers to Symon le Breton, one of Morton’s colleagues. It seems Symon had an issue with the Turks. The four-part setting is from an Italian chansonnier created for Isabelle d’Este, and probably formed part of the repertory of a wind band.
Lome arme falsum is an Anonymous setting from a set of early 16th-century part books.

The armed man must be feared; it has been proclaimed everywhere that every man should be armed a coat of mail. The armed man must be feared, the armed man must be feared.
You are going to fight the infamous Turk, Sir Symon, for certain, it will be so, and you’ll cut him down with your battleaxe.
Once he falls into our hands we’ll destroy his self-respect. You are going to fight the infamous Turk, Sir Symon, for certain, it will be so, and you’ll cut him down with your battleaxe.
You’ll finish him off in no time, God willing, and people will say “Long live Symon the Breton who vanquished the Turk!”
You are going to fight the infamous Turk, Sir Symon, for certain, it will be so, and you’ll cut him down with your battleaxe.


Gilles BINCHOIS
24. Files a marier ne vous mariez ja
(Biblioteca Columbia, Seville, MS 5–I–43.6)
Files a marier is folksy, boisterous, and argumentative, and not at all in the reflective and high-minded style Binchois adopted for most of his chansons. The tenor is the popular song se tu t’en marias, while the two upper voices which work in canon, are based on a basse danse melody.

Girls, just don’t get married, for if he is jealous, he will be jealous, and he will never make you happy in your heart.

© 2019 B. Paul









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